Understanding Linear Regulators and Key Performance Parameters

Understanding Linear Regulators and Key Performance ParametersLow-dropout regulators (LDOs) are used extensively in a wide variety of electronic applications across multiple industries. Today’s systems are getting more complex, noise sensitive and power hungry with every new design. The widespread use of switching power supplies at all power levels means that designers must spend more time avoiding noise coupling and interference, while improving system efficiency. A datasheet’s specifications of basic parameters are clear and easy to understand, however, it does not list the parameters for every possible circuit condition. To make the best use of an LDO, it is necessary to understand the key performance parameters and their impact on given loads. Designers will need to determine whether the LDO is suitable for a specific load by closely analyzing the surrounding circuit conditions.

This article examines the key performance parameters of LDOs and their impact on delivering clean output voltage to the various devices inside an electronic system. It also discusses the factors a designer must consider when optimizing a system, especially in noise sensitive and higher current usage areas.